Green Corner: Lights, camera and sustainability in the theater

Most people attending Rider know of its top- notch musical theater department. With the lights, special effects, props and costume changes, sustainability is usually the last thing that comes to mind. While Rider prepares its talented students for a career in this field, whether on stage or off, Broadway has made huge strides to become a little greener. In 2008, the Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) was founded in partnership with the National Resource Defense Council. The BGA is an organization of people in the theater community that recognize the impact the industry has on the environment. The Green Alliance understands that the art of performing will likely never be totally sustainable, but is committed to trying to reduce the industry’s negative impact.

The BGA is divided into six divisions that each have an aspect of theater production that they work to make more sustainable. Each committee is led by a Broadway worker that takes their job seriously and has something to show for their efforts. For example, the pre- and post-production committee focuses on making and disposing of costumes, props and constructing more sustainable sets. Before, the props, sets and costumes would all be sent to landfills. Now, up to 88 percent of the items from the show are recycled or reused for other productions. The BGA believes that a small group of people taking strides to better the theater can have a huge impact. Rider also manages to reuse costume and set materials in its productions, reducing the waste coming out of the department and lowering expenses.

Some of the projects the groups in the BGA have accomplished include switching the inside and outside lighting to energy-saving light bulbs. Did you know that there are LEDs that can be focused and change colors to meet a production’s needs? This project alone has saved an estimated 700 tons of carbon per year.

Another accomplishment the BGA has executed was through its touring committee. This division works to make their travels and venues they perform at as sustainable as possible. This group partners with Touring Green and invested in wind energy and methane digesters to offset 10,000 tons of carbon from their travels. Other projects include switching to using rechargeable batteries, getting the actors and crew to use reusable water bottles and switching to eco-friendly cleaning supplies and appliances. Through these little projects, the BGA has made a positive impact on the environment.

The BGA continues to reach out to tens of thousands of its fans and members of the community to get them involved in sustainability and combating climate change through social media, collection drives and internships. Sophomore arts administration major Alec Feinsot interned with BGA this summer.

“I worked on several projects at the BGA, most notably, a recycling project that occurred when ‘The Lion King’ tour temporarily closed and relaunched earlier this year,” he said, “The project provided various green resources to the tour which allowed for the greenest possible closing process.”

Through these fans, more people continue to be educated on preserving the environment.

Along with “Julie’s Bicycle” in the United Kingdom, the BGA is a founding member in the International Green Theater Alliance. The International Green Theatre Alliance is a worldwide organization that is dedicated to making the performance industry more sustainable. The BGA has a global effect but it impacts us locally as well. Even at Rider, there are people connected and passionate for the cause.

Sophomore theater performance major Jason Mount said that the Rider theater program “isn’t entirely eco-friendly.”

“However, an effort is being made to use what supplies are available, such as set pieces, furniture, props and costumes, which lead to a lesser demand of materials,” he said.

It is easy to get involved, even without being located on Broadway. Rider students can learn more about the BGA’s sustainability initiatives online or get involved by recycling their old clothes, electronics and binders through the BGA collection drives.

— Brianne Gallina, Alison Fisher

Lawrenceville eco-reps

Printed in the 2/28/18 issue.

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